Looks Can Be Deceiving by Larry W. Peebles June 17, 2016 16.22
Everything looked normal. There was no apparent cause for concern, and nothing to indicate I should even have a second thought or worry. It was bedtime at the end of a long and tiring day. I was actually too tired to think. In order to stay on schedule for the remodel of our kitchen, I had to drive from northern Georgia to northern Alabama and back to pick up a replacement kitchen sink. The one I had ordered and kept in the garage for a month was chipped and cracked when we pulled it out of the box to install. Now that the replacement sink was back in my garage, I was ready for bed.
I turned on the water in the bathroom sink to brush my teeth. After flossing, I turned the water on a second time to brush again, as is my habit. As I brushed for the final time, the water suddenly turned Georgia clay red. A quick test of other faucets in the house revealed the same problem. The water lines in our home were contaminated.
When I left for Alabama that morning, I was aware that the utility company was preparing to repair a leak between the water main and my neighbor’s meter. When I returned that evening, everything in the neighborhood looked normal, and I never gave that repair another thought—until I turned on the water faucet at my sink. By then it was too late. Looks can be deceiving. The outward appearance of my freshly painted bathroom, the shiny faucet, decorator mirror, ornate light fixture, porcelain under-mount sink, and granite counter top did not matter. While they were all beautiful, what was coming out of the pipes was dirt and contamination. In fact, what was coming out of the inside was affecting the outward appearance of the sink, as the mud in the water left an ugly residue.
In the process of repairing the leak next door, the water company had introduced dirt into the main. Without a warning of this, I had introduced the dirt into the water system in my home, including the hot water tank. With the proper warning, I could have tested my system by running the outside faucet for a while, instead of opening an inside faucet, which allowed the contaminants to enter into the interior piping of the home.
After an hour of flushing water through the pipes and hot water tank of the home, the water began to run clear. I knew that a test of the water quality would be necessary to be safe, but then we would be fine. Exhausted, I finally fell into bed. During the night, this scripture verse came to mind in my sleep. Jesus was speaking of the hypocritical Pharisees when he said (Matthew 23: 25-26) –“Woe to you….You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisees! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” Jesus was of course speaking of matters of the heart, internal matters that drive destructive behaviors such as jealousy, hate, unwillingness to forgive, bitterness, greed, pride and rage. These are all behaviors that God cannot tolerate.
Like the red mud in the pipes, these behaviors can manifest when we least expect them. Perhaps we are tired or frustrated, discouraged, angry or stretched too thin, but something or someone pushes the last button. We snap, and the worst of the inside of us comes out in a very ugly fashion. We often surprise ourselves, having to apologize for our words and actions, but it is too late. The damage is done. Things that we may remember are there, but hoped were dealt with, are now out for others to see. We are blinded toward some issues, and do not know they are there.
Jesus went on to say (v. 27) that the Pharisees were like tombs covered in whitewash [thin paint]. “Woe to you…Pharisees…You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” [Emphasis mine.]
I include myself when I say we all spend too much time and attention on external appearances. If something does not look good, we apply whitewash. So long as we can mask or ignore a character issue, we do not deal with it. When something opens the faucet and it comes out, it is too late.
God already knows our heart. He knows what is capable of coming out of our pipes when we least expect it. He wants us to be proactive to defeat those issues in our character, and He wants to help.
Consider these scriptures:
- 1 Samuel 16:7- “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
- Luke 11:39-41- “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? But give what is inside the dish to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.” This verse is similar to the Matthew 23:25 verse above, but goes on to make it clear that the one (God) who made the outside of your dish (your outward appearance) also made and knows the condition of the inside. Who better to repair the inner parts than the manufacturer? It is also clear that if we give away (deal with) what is on the inside of the dish with the right attitude, God will take care of the outside.
- Romans 3:23- “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We all have unpleasant issues of the heart to deal with.
- 1 John 1:8-10- “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins, and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar, and his word has no place in our lives.” This verse indicates God will help us. If we confess those things that make us dirty on the inside, He not only forgives, He purifies us from that unrighteousness. Then we will pass the water quality test.
Do not wait for the pipes to spew forth dirty water at the most inopportune and unexpected time. Take a critical self-inventory now. Ask God to help you see those hidden flaws you may not be aware of. Then ask Him to help you to defeat the character flaws in your life that do not reflect His glory. He already knows of them, wants to help, and is just waiting for us to ask.